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Benjamin G. (Benjamin Glazier) Willey.

Incidents in White Mountain history, together with many interesting anecdotes illustrating life in the backwoods online

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INCIDENTS

IN

WHITE MOUNTAIN HISTORY:

CONTAINING

'' FACTS RELATING TO THE DISCOVERY AND SETTLEMENT OF THE
MOUNTAINS, INDIAN HISTORY AND TRADITIONS, A MINUTE
AND AUTHENTIC ACCOUNT OF THE DESTRUCTION OF
THE WILLEY FAMILY, GEOLOGY AND TEM-
PERATURE OF THE MOUNTAINS ;

TOGETHER WITH

g;umcr0ws ^mMn Illustrating fife in tire lack ®la0&5.

• BY

REV. BENJAMIN G. WILLEY.

TO WHICH IS ADDED

AN ACCURATE a U I 33 E

FROM

NEW YORK AKD BOSTON

TO

THE WHITE MOUNTAINS.



4 J ■* J



2ri)irti2:fiousanU.



BOSTON: j ir^^',' A i^''^

PUBLISHED BY NATHANIEL NOYt^S', ' '

No. 11 CORNH ILL.

NEW YORK: M. AV . DODD, 59 CHAMBERS STREET.

CINCINNATI, OHIO: H. W. DERBY.

PORTLAND, ME.: FRANCIS BLAKE.

185 6. -X,



Kiitered acconling to Act of Congress, in the year 1355, by

BENJAMIN 0. WILLEY,

III the Oleik's Office of the District Court of the District of Miissaclmsettt.



c



Stereotyped b j

HOUAllT 4 BOBBINS.

New England Tjpe and Stereotype Fouoderr,

BOSTON.



PREFACE.



Almost invariably the question is asked me, on an intrci-
duction to a stranger, " Are you a connection of the family
destroyed at the White Mountains?" and, on learning that I
am, the question is almost certain to follow, "What were
the facts in regard to their destruction?"

The frequency of the inquiry, and the apparent interest
with which the narration of that fearful scene has been lis-
tened to, have led me to suppose that a particular account of
that terrible storm, and the destruction of my brother's fam-
ily, would be interesting to the public. Travellers have
long needed a Book of the Mountains ; and so pressingly
have I been urged to undertake such a book, that the above
fact, the abundance of material, and the thought that I
might benefit myself, and supply an existing want, has
induced me to undertake the task. How I have succeeded
others will judge. It was not undertaken as a literary
effort, but a simple narration of facts. Are they intelligible ?
is my only inquiry. When I commenced, there was no book
on the White Mountains, save a small work by Mrs. Craw-
ls



VI PREFACE.

ford, widow of the late Ethan A. Crawford. That was out
of print, and had been so for years. When my manuscript
was nearly completed, a small book on the White Mountains
came out, by Mr. John H. Spaulding ; but it does not con-
flict with mine.

I am under great obligations to the Rev. Daniel Goodhue,
formerly of Gilead, Me., now of Andover, N. H., for the
large amount of matter which he furnished me concerning
the history of the eastern side of the mountains. Joel
Winch, Esq., of Bethlehem, has also my hearty thanks for
matter furnished by him. The kindness of the Hon. N. B.
Baker, of Concord; E. J. Lane, Esq., of Dover; B. B.
French, Esq., Washington, D. C. ; Gen. Samuel Fessenden,
of Portland; James Willey, Esq., of Conway; Rev. Samuel
Souther, of Fryburg, and others, who have assisted me with
books and material, is gratefully remembered. My son.
Ml'. S. T. B. Willey, has also been of great assistance to me
in arranging and writing much of the book. B G W.

K\ST Sumner, Me., Sept., 1855.



CONTENTS.



CHAPTER I.

THE MOUNTAINS.



The extent and location of the mountains. — Their height and the great distance
at which they are seen. — The Indian names. — The origin of these names. —
Dr. Belknap's description. — The early visitors. — Vines' and Gorge's visit. —
Josselyn's account of his visit. — The central group of mountains. — Heights
of different summits. — Gate of the Notch. — Notch. — Mount Webster. —
Giant's Grave. — View from Giant's Grave. — The tops of the mountains. — The
foliage on their sides. — The vegetation on the higher summits. — The shad-
ows of clouds. — Insects on the mountains. — Birds. — The dead trees. — The
mountains during a storm — as seen by moonlight — as seen in winter. — The
sides. — View from the summit of Mount Washington. — View at sunrise. —
Indian tradition, 13

CHAPTER II.

MOUNTAINS CONTINUED.

The many objects of interest. — The great gulf. — Oakes' gulf. — Tuckerman's
ravine. — Snow cavern. — Source of the many springs on the mountains. —
Saco and Merrimac rivers. — Ellis and Peabody rivers. — Cascades. — Silver
cascades. — The flume. — The devil's den. — Crystal falls. — Glen Ellis falls. —
Ammonoosuc. — Falls of the Ammonoosuc. — Franconia mountains. — Mount
Lafayette. — Eagle cliff. — Cannon mount. — Old Man of the Mountains. —
Profile lake. — Optical illusions from Cannon mount. — Echo lake. — The
basin. — The flume. — The pool. — Narrow escape from a fall into the pool, 28

CHAPTER III.

THE INDIANS.

The Uncertainty of the many traditions. — The superstitions of the Indians. —
Probable cause of those superstitions. — Tradition of a flood. — Great treas-
ures of gold and gems. — Search for treasures. — The particular tribes inhab-



VIII CONTENTS.

iting the mountains. — Indian relics in Conway — In Ossipee — in Fryburg
— The Sokokis. — Their destruction by the pestilence. — Account of Vine.^
of his visit to them. — Squando. — Death of his child. — Assacumbuit. — Visit
to France. — Destruction of Haverhill. — Polan. — "Whittier's verses on his
burial. — Chocorua. — His curse. — Anasagunticooks. — Their chiefs. — Hon.
Enoch Lincoln's interest in Indians of this region. — Visit of Gov. Lincoln to
Natalluck. — Indian myth. — The little Indian infant. — Curious marriage
custom, 42

CHAPTER IV.

COoS COUNTY.

Coos as a farming county. — The opinion of Hon. Isaac Hill. — Dr. Dwight's
account of the climate. — The many and peculiar shapes of towns. — Kil-
kenny. — Pilot and Willard mountains. — Story of Willard and his dog. —
Randolph. — Extensive views from Randolph. — Ascent of Mount Jefferson. —
Great danger in a storm. — View from Jefferson. — Jefferson. — Beautiful sit-
uation of Jefferson. — Brothers Glines. — Colonel Whipple. — His yearly visit
to Portsmouth. — Story illustrating his x^are of his townsmen. — His capture
by the Indians, and escape. — Mr. Gotham. — The importance of the discov-
ery of the Notch. — Nash's discovery of the pass. — Gov. Wentworth. — Get-
ting a horse through the defile. — Sawyer. — "Sawyer's Rock." — Mountain
carriages. — Barrel of tobacco. — Barrel of rum. — Cutting the road through
the Notch. — Hart's location, 58

CHAPTER V.

EARLr SETTLERS.

Early settlement of the locations. — Capt. Rosebrook. — Monadnuc. — Mrs.
Rosebrook. — Scarcity of salt. — Great crops. — Removal from Monadnuc. -
Settlement at Guildhall. — Mrs. Rosebrook's adventure with the Indians. —
Removal toNash and Sawyer's location. — Difficulty of finding his house in
the drifts of snow. — "Want of provisions. — His energy. — Cancer — His
death. — Ethan Allen Crawford, the giant of the moimtains — His early
youth. — Hardships. — The treacherous servant, .75

CHAPTER VI.

ETHAN A. CRAWFORD.

Mr. Crawford's impressive manner of story-telling. — The burning of his build-
ings. — His energy in repairing his losses. — His labors as a guide on to the
mountains. — The difficulty formerly of reaching the mountains. — Story illus-
trating difficulty of travelling in those days. — Present modes of reaching
mountains. — First ascent of the mountains. — Party of students from Fry-



CONTENTS. IX

burg. — Ease of ascending now. — First bridle-path. — Ethan's severe wound.

— Granny Stalbard. — Carriage-road from Glen Houses — Love of Hunting.—
The gray cat. — Adventures with them. — Lassos and captures one with birch
poles. — "Wolves. — His annoyance and discomfiture by them'. — Bear stories.

— Catching the cub. — Capture of a full-grown bear, 83

CHAPTER VII.

THE CRAWFORD FAMILY.

Mr. Crawford's early death. — A remarkable man. — The Crawford family.—
Abel Crawford. — Mrs. Crawford. — Her bravery during the night of the
slides. — "Crawford House." — Death of Mr. Strickland on the mountains. —
Danger of ascending mountains without guide. — Party of students lost on
mountains. — Nancy's brook. — Story of Nancy. — Superstitions connected
with the spot where she was found. — Owl story. — Beautiful auroral display
at the Notch, 95

CHAPTER VIII.

THE SLIDES.

The effect of the turnpike upon travel through the Notch. — Coos teamsters. —
Pleasure ti'avel. — "Want of public houses. — The first house built at the
Notch. — Moving of Mr. Willey to the Notch. — The first winter after his
removal. — The first slide in June. — The fears of Mr. Willey and his family.

— The great storm. — The great drought previous to the storm. — Theory of
slides. — The first signs of the storm. — The gathering of the clouds about the
mountains, as seen from Conway. — Night of the disaster. — Very peculiar
appearance of the mountains about midnight. — Piapid rise of the Saco in
Conway. — First discovery of slides. — First news from the Not<3h. — The shrill
voice in the darkness. — The confirmation of the first report. — The manner
of communicating the news. — The trumpet at midnight. — Setting out for
Notch. — Condition of the roads. — The appearance of the Saco valley. —
Arrival at the " "Willey House." — Search for the bodies. — Finding of some
of the bodies. — Burial. — .-.he prayer at the grave. — Finding of other bodies.

— Oxen. — The first night spent in the house succeeding the storm, . . . 110

CHAPTER IX.

THE SLIDES, CONTINUED.

The family dog. — The first conjecture in regard to manner of destruction. —
Second conjecture. — Third conjecture.— The dream. — "Why all were de-
troyed. — The mutilation of the bodies. — David Allen. — The great rise of
water. — Their terrible situation during the storm. — The effect of a storm
upon a family in the same house a year after. — The storm, .... 129



X CONTENTS.

CHAPTER X.

THE SLIDES, CONCLUDED.

The stonn as witnessed by one at the mountains. — The view from Bethlehem.

— Kapid rise of the Ammonoosuc. — Condition of Capt. Rosebrook's farm. —
Slides as first seen. — Falls of the Ammonoosuc. — DifiBculty of reaching
Crawford's. — Attempt to ascend the mountains. — The camp. — Great destruc-
tion of treeS; , 141

CHAPTER XI.

BARTLETT.

General features. — Rocky branch. — Incident on its bank. — Incident of Ellis'
river. — First settlement. — Loss of the horses. — Snow caverns. — Brothers
Emery. — Humphrey's obstinacy. — Their perilous escape from freezing. —
Hon. John Pendexter. — His removal from Portsmouth. — Children. — " Rais-
ing" scene. — Mrs. Pendexter. — The great distance of a market. — Difficulty
of reaching market. — Traps for catching wild animals. — The common log
trap. — Figure four. — Pequawket mountain. — Adventure with a rattlesnake.

— The "Chapel of the Hills."— Mrs. Snow.— Its dedication, 147

CHAPTER XII.

JACKSON.

The valleys of the mountains. — The directions in which they run. — Moose
pond. — Moose bathing. — Moose. — The Conway hunter. — The leap of a
moose over a horse and sleigh. — Eagle ledge. — Mineral resources. — General
features of Jackson. — Benjamin Copp. — His endurance. — Mr. Pinkham's
account of his first entrance into Jackson — The hog. — The house. — Scarcity
of salt. — Incident of Capt. Vere Royce. — Tornado. — Expedient to save chil-
dren. — Bear story. — Freewill Baptist society. — Elder Daniel Elkins, .163

CHAPTER XIII.

CONWAY.

Beautiful scenery of Conway. — Autumnal foliage. — Attractions of Conway to
hunters and early settlers. — Elijah Dinsraore. — Expedient to keep from starv-
ing. — Story of Emery. — Great freshet. — Maple sugar. — Mr. M'illey's en-
counter with a bear. — Stephen Allard'a bear story. — Schools. — Boys and the
hogs. — Congregational church. — Dr. Porter. — Baptist church. — Chataque.

— North Conway. — Ledges. — Family burying-place. — Names of the family
d«»troyed at the Notch, 174



CONTENTS. XI

CHAPTER XIV. *

FRYBURG.

The imporlanco of Fryburg in early times. — The grant of town to Gen. Frye.

— Cwf.Jit-iOirfj ot the grant. — First settlers. — Their hardships. — Oliver
PeaLody. — Indiaus. — Sabatis. — Encounter with a catamount. — Love of the
water. — Indians' iOfO for Mr. Fessenden. — Old Phillip. — Fryburg expedi-
tion to Shelburne. - Fryburg academy. — Buildings. — Preceptors. — Paul
Langdon. — Daniel >cbster. — Amos I. Cook. — Rev. William Fessenden. —
Marion Lyle Hurd, 189

CHAPTER XV.

lovewell's fight.

"View from Pequawket tt»o«ntain. — Lovewell's pond. — Sufferings of the early
settlers in Dunstable. -Expedition to Winnipiseogee lake. — Expedition of
Lovewell to Pequawket. — His company. — Encampment on the shore of the
pond. — Situation of tho Indian village. — " Carrying place." — Discovery of
the first Indian. — Kill the Indian. — The battle. — Retreat of Lovewell'a
men. — Chamberlain and Paugus. — Council at night. — Retreat. — Ensign
"Wyman and companions. — Mr. Frye. — Jones. — Farwell and Davis. — Traces
of the battle.— The old ballad, 204

CHAPTER XVI.

GILEAD.

Situation of Gilead. — Soil. — "Wild river. — Early settlers. — Ministers. — First
church. — Slide. — Bears. — Encounter of one Bean. — York's warm reception
by a bear. — Oliver Peabody's loose ox. — Famine among bears. — Bear aad
hog story. — Horrible tragedy, 222

CHAPTER XVII.

segar's NARRATITE.

Attack on Bethel. — Segar. — Indians. — Capture of Segar and companions. —
Mrs. Clark. — The journey to Canada. — Pettengill's house. — Hope Austin.—
Capt. Rindge. — Murder of Poor. — Clark's escape. — Encampments at night.

— Umbagog lake. — Sufferings from hunger. — Arrival at St. Francis' river.

— Indian dance. — British protection. — Return home, 234

CHAPTER XVIII.

SHELBTJRXE.

Situation of Shelburne. — Mountains. — Evening drive among tho moiuatains.—
Mount Moriah. — Moses' rock. — Granny Starbird's ledge. — "Why so called.



XII C0NTE2vTS.

— Mineral wealth of this to-wn. — Early settlers. — Mr. Daniel Ingalls.—
Moses Ingalls. — Killing the devil. — Robert Fletcher Ingalls. — Sufferings
of the early settlers. — Indian massacre. — Terrible encounter with wolves.^
The famished soldier, 244

CHAPTER XIX.

GORHAir^

White Mountain Indians. — Col. Clark. — Molly Ockett. — Peol Susup. — Indian
eloquence. — Gorham. — Influence of the railroad upon it. — Alpine House. -
Glen House. — Mount Washington road. — Carriages. — Building of the " Sum-
mit House." — Weather on the summit in May. — Origin of Peabody river. —
Wonderful endurance of cold, 258

CHAPTER XX.

ALBANY, FRANCONIA, AXD BETHLEHEM.

Drake's version of Chocorua's curse. — Popular legend connected with this
curse. — Cause of the disease among cattle in Albany. — Remedy for the dis.
ease. — Beavers. — Military incident. — Francouia. — Iron mine. — Extent of
the mine. — Knight's moose story. — Village of Bethlehem. — Tiew of the
mountains from Bethlehem. — Early settlement. — First road to the White
Mountains from Bethlehem. — Expedient to keep from freezing. — First town-
meeting. — Building bridge over Ammonoosuc. — Scarcity of provisions.—
Extremity to which inhabitants were driven. — Bethlehem of the present
day, 271

•. CHAPTER XXI.

GEOLOGY.

Indian theory of creation of world. — Indian idea of the creation of the White
Mountains. — Dr. Jackson's theory. — Sir Charles Lyell's theory, . . . .283

CHAPTER XXII.

TEMPERATURE OF THE MOTIXTAINS.

Thermometrical table. — Synopsis of the weather. — Comparison of weather

with Long Island weather. — Earthquakes. — Thimder-storms. — Wind. —

Cold and frost. — Clearness of the atmosphere. — Length of days. — Springs.

Combustion, 291

CHAPTER XXIII.
Conclusion, . . 300



CHAPTER I.

THE MOUNTAINS.

THE EXTENT AND LOCATIOX OF THE MOUNTAIXS. — THEIR HEIGHT AND THE

GREAT DISTANCE AT -WHICH THEY ARE SEEN. THE INDIAN NAMES.

THE ORIGIN OF THESE NAMES. DR. BELKNAP's DESCRIPTION. THE

EARLY VISITORS. VINES' AND GORGE'S VISIT. JOSSELYN'S ACCOUNT

OF HIS VISIT. THE CENTRAL GROUP OF MOUNTAINS. HEIGHTS OP

DIFFERENT SUMMITS. GATE OF THE NOTCH. NOTCH. MOUNT WEB-

8TER. — giant's GRAVE. VIEW FROM GIANT's GRAVE. — THE TOPS OP

THE MOUNTAINS. — THE FOLIAGE ON THEIR SIDES, — THE VEGETATION ON

THE HIGHER SUMMITS. THE SHADOWS OF CLOUDS. INSECTS ON THE

MOUNTAINS. BIRDS. THE DEAD TREES. THE MOUNTAINS DURING A

STORM AS SEEN BY MOONLIGHT AS SEEN IN WINTER. THE SLIDES.

— VIEW FROM THE SUMMIT OF MOUNT WASHINGTON. — VIEW AT SUN-
RISE. — INDIAN TRADITION.



" Mount Washington, I have come a long distance, have toiled hard to
arrive at your summit, and now you seem to give me a cold reception."

Daniel Webster.

The AYhite Mountains embrace the whole group of moun-
tains in northern New Hampshire, extending forty miles
from north to south, and about the same distance from east
to west. The term has sometimes been applied exclusively
to the central cluster, including the six or seven highest
peaks, and very properly, though in its comprehensive sense
2



14 INCIDENTS IN WHITE MOUNTAIN HISTORY.

we think it should embrace the extended group. Mount
Blanc and I\Iount Jura constitute not the whole of the Alps ;
neither do \Yashington and ^Monroe, the White Mountains.
Clustering around their central height, like children of one
large family, no merely arbitrary division should ever sepa-
rate them.

These mountains are the highest land east of the Missis-
sippi river, ' ' and, in clear weather, are descried before any
other land by vessels approaching our eastern coast ; but, by
reason of their white appearance, are frequently mistaken for
clouds. They are visible on the land at the distance of
eighty miles, on the south and south-east sides. They
appear higher when viewed from the north-east, and it is
said they are seen from the neighborhood of Chamblee and
Quebec."

The Indian name of these mountains, according to Belknap,
is Agiocochook. President Alden states that they were
known to some of the more eastern tribes of Indians by the
name "Waumbekketmethna ; Waumbekket, signifying white,
and methna, mountains. And still other tribes gave them
the appellation Kan Ban Yugarty, the continued likeness
of a Gull. All these names, we see, have the same general
meaning, and refer to the white appearance of the moun-
tains.

'' During the period of nine or ten months the mountains
exhibit more or less of that bright appearance, from which
they are denominated white. In the spring, when the snow
is partly dissolved, they appear of a pale blue, streaked with
white ; and after it is wholly gone, at the distance of sixty
miles, they are altogether of the same pale blue, nearly ap-
proaching a sky color ; while, at the same time, viewed at the
distance of eight miles or less, they appear of the proper



INCIDENTS IN WHITE MOUNTAIN HISTORY. 15

color of the rock. Light fleecy clouds, floating about their
summits, give them the same whitish hue as snow.

" These vast and irregular heights, being copiously replen-
ished with water, exhibit a great variety of beautiful cas-
cades ; some of which fall in a perpendicular sheet or spout ;
othens are winding and sloping ; others spread, and form a
basin in the rock, and then gush in a cataract over its edge.
A poetic fancy may find full gratification amidst these wild
and rugged scenes, if its ardor be not checked by the fatigue
of the approach. Almost everything in nature, which can
be supposed capable of inspiring ideas of the sublime and
beautiful, is here realized. Old mountains, stupendous
elevations, rolling clouds, impending rocks, verdant woods,
crystal streams, the gentle rill, and the roaring torrent, all
conspire to amaze, to soothe, and to enrapture."

These mountains were first visited in 1632, by one Darby
Field, whose glowing account of the riches he had discovered
on his return, caused others immediately to make the same
exploration. The visit of a Mr. Vines and Gorges is thus
described by "Winthrop : " The report brought by Darby
Field, of shining stones, &c., caused divers others to travel
thither; but they found nothing worth their pains. Mr.
Gorges and Mr. Vines, two of the magistrates of Sir F.
Gorges' province, went thither about the end of this month
(August). They set out, probably, a few days after the
return of Field, dazzled by visions of diamonds and other
precious minerals, with which the fancy of this man had
garnished his story.

"They went up Saco river in birch canoes, and that way
they found it ninety miles to Pegwagget, an Indian town ;
but by land it is but sixty. Upon Saco river they found
many thousand acres of rich meadow ; but there are ton falls



16 INCIDENTS IN WHITE MOUNTAIN HISTORY.

which hinder boats, &c. From the Indian town thej went
up hill (for the most part), about thirty miles, in woody
lands. Then they went about seven or eight miles upon
shattered rocks, without tree or grass, very steep all the way.
At the top is a plain, about three or four miles over, all shat-
tered stones ; and upon that is another rock or spire, about a
mile in height, and about an acre of ground at the 'top. At
the top of the plain arise four great rivers ; each of them so
much water at the first issue as would drive a mill : Connect-
icut river from two heads at the N. W., and S. W., which
join in one about sixty miles ojBf ; Saco river on the S. E. ;
Amascoggin, which runs into Casco bay, at the N. E. ; and
the Kennebec at the N. by E. The mountains run east
and west, thirty or forty miles ; but the peak is above all the
rest. They went and returned in fifteen days."

Josselyn, who visited them still later, has thus curiously
described them : '' Four score miles (upon a direct line), to
the N. W. of Scarborow, a ridge of mountains runs N. W.
and N. E., an hundred leagues, known by the name of the
White Mountains, upon which lieth snow all the year, and is
a landmark twenty miles ofi" at sea. It is a rising ground
from the sea-shore to these hills ; and they are inaccessible,
but by the gullies which the dissolved snow hath made. In
these gullies grow saven bushes, which, being taken hold of,
are a good help to the climbing discoverer. Upon the top of
the highest of these mountains is a large level, or plain, of
a day's journey over, whereon nothing grows but moss. At
the further end of this plain is another hill, called the sugar-
loaf — to outward appearance a rude heap of mossie stones,
piled one upon another — and you may, as you ascend, step
from one stone to another, as if you were going up a pair of
Btairs, but winding still about the hill, till you come to tho



INCIDENTS IN WHITE MOUNTAIN HISTORY. 17

top, "which will require half a day's time ; and yet it is not
above a mile, "where there is also a level of about an acre of
ground, "with a pond of clear "water in the midst of it, which
you may hear run down ; but how it ascends is a mystery.
From this rocky hill you may see the whole country round
about. It is far above the lower clouds ; and from hence we
behold a vapor (like a great pillar), drawn up by the sun-
beams out of a great lake, or pond, into the air, where it was
formed into a cloud. The country beyond these hills, north-
ward, is daunting terrible ; being full of rocky hills, as thick
as mole-hills in a meadow, and clothed with infinite thick
woods."

The mountains which have more particularly attracted the
attention of the tourists and writers, are near the northern
boundary of the group, extending from the "Notch," a dis-
tance of fourteen miles in a north-easterly direction. The
different peaks of this cluster gradually increase in height
from the outside to the centre, where towers Mount Wash-
inorton high above all. The lower and surroundino!; moun-
tains are beautifully wooded to their very tops; while the
bold Alpine summits of the central ones rise up far above
the limits of vegetation, amid the clouds.

The heights of the different summits, as given by Professor


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